As schools let out and the air grew warmer, teenagers’ minds turned to one thing: money. From fast food to lifeguarding, teens in Oswego got to work this summer, all with a variety of experiences and opinions.
A survey taken at Oswego High School demonstrated that students were divided on their summer work experiences. In a poll of 20 OHS students, only 45 percent of students rated their overall work experience a four or five out of five, five being the highest rating of satisfaction.
Further, around 20 percent of students rated it a two or lower on the same scale. However, 60 percent recommended their job to other students and 40 percent of students felt that they were treated with the respect indicated by a perfect score of five at work.
“I see more and more [teens] needing to work because of rising costs of gas, groceries, [etcetera]. Inflation has affected them as much as their parents,” said business teacher Ms. Sarah Carlson. “I do also notice that they enjoy having their own money to spend, even if they don’t always enjoy their job.”
This summer, teenagers nationwide entered the workforce at staggering rates. Students either felt the pressure of looming student loans or wanted extra cash. No matter the reason, teenagers have become an essential part of the local workforce.
An essential part of the student job search was work environment, as 95 percent of students rated their overall work environment a three or higher in the poll. Most students have explained that they value and enjoy the stability of a healthy and productive work environment.
“One of the questions that I always ask is how is the work environment,” said junior Madalyn Pope. “[I]f it’s a toxic environment- like no one talks to each other, the manager is mean- you’re not going to want to stay there.”
Many students work long, exhausting shifts in the heat during the summer, so the conditions they work in have become very important. Factors like relationships with coworkers, frequency of breaks, and treatment by managers all contribute to the ideal work environment.
“Pay is important but it shouldn’t be the first thing. What you should look for is a good work environment and could you see yourself working there for a long time,” junior Jules Hawkins said.
Beyond simply working conditions, teenagers across Oswego have expressed that their relationships with coworkers have also contributed to their enjoyment at work. No matter their age, those surveyed explained that those bonds helped them work through difficult situations in the workplace.
“If I never made friends with anyone I feel like I would have been really bored,” said Pope. “I wouldn’t have come back.”
Other students in OHS felt similarly; 90 percent of those surveyed ranked their relationships with their coworkers at a four or higher out of five and 85 percent want to return to the same job next summer or through the academic year. These feelings of companionship seem to be a priority for students. Relationships with coworkers help foster an environment full of teamwork and learning, something that many credit to communication and compassion.
“Literally all of it is communication,” said Hawkins. “As long as you are willing to be open-minded and tell them what days you are off and what days you are not, you should be fine.”
Overall, summer jobs can be a very beneficial experience for students as long as they keep a positive attitude and appreciate the people around them. Student job advisors agree that while a summer job might not be perfect, it can be a tool for growth.
“Summer jobs are fantastic for a lot of reasons,” OHS career advisor Ms. Amanda Hoidas said. She listed benefits as “meeting new people, gaining a sense of self-confidence and responsibility, and depending on the job – giving back to the community, environment, or society.”
My name is Sasha Pankuch and I am a junior here at OHS. This is my first year with 42Fifty too. I am very involved here at OHS; I am on the board of Student Council, I play the saxophone in the Panther Marching Band, and am a member of multiple honors societies!